Saturday, October 15, 2016

How To Enjoy the Playoffs If Your Team Is Not In It

What happens when your favorite Major League Baseball team is out of the playoffs? Is the season over for you? Are you forced to give up baseball, earlier than you really wanted to? Sure, you can watch football and hockey, but baseball rules – what are you going to do?
The good news is that if you really are a baseball fan, you should be able to find something to root for in the post season. Maybe you can't stand the Dodgers or the Blue Jays. If so, if you can make yourself do it, then root for the Cubs or the Indians.
It's not against the law to root for some other team. It's true even in say, New York and Boston, where you can get the snot kicked out of you if you let on that you're not a diehard Yankees or Red Sox fan. If you live in St. Louis, for example, you can justify rooting for the dreaded Cubs because you despise the Dodgers. Maybe you're a Rangers fan and you want the Blue Jays to lose because you will never forget that Jose Bautista bat flip in 2015. If so, rooting for the Indians is not going to cost you your job; there is a purpose there.
Actually, there are other reasons to at least watch the playoffs and World Series in the absence of your favorite team.
If nothing else, even if you don't want to root for any of the teams still alive in the post season, you can still enjoy watching the incredibly talented athletes who play for those teams. If nothing else, with your team out, you might enjoy even more, the intensity of the League Championship and World Series. Sometimes, having your team out of it frees you up a bit; that is, you are relieved of the stress of hoping your team won't embarrass you.
My team is the Astros, and in 2015, they held onto first place in the American League West until late in the season. It was stressful for me and other Astros fans, wondering if/when they would implode, fall back on old habits, and give up the ghost. They did give up the division lead late in the season to the rival Rangers, but then they beat the Yankees in the Wild Card game. They moved on to the ALDS, and came close to beating the Royals.
This year, the Astros were never really in the hunt, especially late in the season. When it finally ended, it was actually a relief for me. Not that I wanted the Astros to lose, but I realized I could focus on my favorite sport and enjoy watching other teams without the stress of worrying about the Astros.
It should be fun watching the intensity of the League Championship and World Series without wondering if your team will hold up. There is a lot of baseball left, and many great players looking to win. We will probably see Clayton Kershaw against Jon Lester or Kyle Hendricks. We will see Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson bat against Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller. Cubs hitters Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant will hit against Kershaw and probably Kenley Jansen.
We can marvel at the defensive skills of Cleveland's Francisco Lindor, and Chicago's Javier Baez. If you haven't watched the Dodgers, you'll see the excellent rookie Corey Seager, and hopefully, the incredible arm of Yasiel Puig. Maybe Bautista will display his hitting and bat flipping skills.
The point is, all four remaining teams are loaded with talented players who are fun to watch. It's still baseball season. Don't give up on a great sport only because your favorite team was eliminated. Stay with it and enjoy watching the last teams fight it out for the World Series.
Larry Manch is an author, teacher, guitar player, freelance writer, and columnist. His books include: 'The Toughest Hundred Dollars & Other Rock & Roll Stories', 'A Sports Junkie', 'The Avery Appointment', 'Between the Fuzzy Parts'.

He also writes about baseball for Climbing Tal's Hill, food and travel on Miles & Meals, and music/guitars on The Backbeat.

He lives in Central Texas with his wife and family.

1 comment:

  1. A positive article which contains truthful gems. As a child, my family had #SeasonTickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the time, I had gave up cheerleading to enter sports. Baseball was one of my favorite sports to watch.

    My Stepdad and I had the best seats. That may have been what inspired me to join the Tri-County softball league. My primary position was shortstop. I was the backup for the pitcher and third baseman (person). My first year I was awarded the MVP-Defense in the league, not the team. The scorecards, numbers do not lie. I have no doubt those ambidextrous skills came in handy; I had a right-handed mitt and a left one and was a switch hitter. Those were some fun times.

    I never had to experience the constant losses that some players face. When I played basketball, I was a three-point shooter. During my junior and senior years, our high school won the state championships.

    Back to the Dodgers, who originally had their start in New York, I enjoyed those games as an adolescent.

    I proudly stood to sing the famous ol' song:

    Take me out to the ball game
    Take me out with the crowd
    Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks
    I don't care if I never get back
    Let me root, root, root
    For the home team
    If they don't win it's a shame
    For it's one,
    Three strikes you're out
    At the old ball game

    All I need is just one chance
    I could hit a home run
    There isn't anyone else like me
    Maybe I'll go down in history
    And it's root, root, root
    For the home team
    Here comes fortune and fame
    'Cause I know
    I'll be the star
    At the old
    Ball Game

    The irony of that song is the gentleman who wrote it had never been to a live baseball game.